Archive for the ‘Orange County’ Category

What better way to celebrate my return to health than an upper body weights workout and light cardio? Best of all, I practically had the hotel gym all to myself yesterday.

Except for the cleaning man who followed me around with his vacuum. (Said cleaning man was quite pleasant, but that doesn’t change the fact that the vacuum was annoying.) During his brief interlude to clean the filter, I captured photographic evidence of my [rather loud] workout intruder. Seriously, I felt like I was in the way. Um, should I leave now? 

After successfully dodging the vacuum, I enjoyed a convenient bowl of Starbucks oatmeal at South Coast Plaza, which is a shopper’s dream connected to our hotel. In addition to nuts, I mixed in banana slices and Starbucks dark chocolate for a delicious flavor combination. Believe me, this bowl got significantly more decadent when the chocolate melted post-stir. This was my first time trying Starbucks dark chocolate, and I’m a fan. They partner with TCHO for their chocolate, so go figure, it’s good stuff. I still prefer Ghiradelli 86% and Lindt 85%, but this is quality.

What’s that, you thought I had enough chocolate for one day? Oh, I’m sorry. No, I’m not. I’m very strict about chocolate consumption, i.e., it’s mandatory.

Room service? Don’t mind if I do.

I may have nibbled on Ghiradelli dark chocolate after dinner, too. 😉 Maybe it was Jenny’s chocoholic’s anonymous post, but I can’t seem to get enough dark chocolate lately. Lifting weights and increased dark chocolate consumption — sure signs of my returned vim and vigor, no?

Most importantly, thank you all so much for your overwhelming support of our Southern California move! I get even more excited reading through your comments! It seems fitting for this Thankful Thursday that I’m brimming with gratitude for each and every one of you and for your support of our move. I’ll keep you updated on job-hunting, house-hunting, and any accompanying stress-eating. *Reaches for chocolate.* Whaaat? 😉

What can you not get enough of this week?


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Over the past few weeks, I’ve been found myself in Lake Tahoe, Austin, Newport Coast, and Los Angeles. Away from my kitchen, gym, pilates, and yoga in San Francisco, you’d think it would be challenging to stay healthy. While it did require some forethought, staying healthy wasn’t so difficult after all. I’m no expert, but I thought it would be fun to share with you how I stayed healthy, happy, and energized on our extended trip away from the comforts of home.

  • If possible, stay in a place with a fully equipped kitchen.  If there’s no kitchen in your hotel room, request the essentials from the concierge.

Not only is this a healthy choice, it’s financially responsible. While taking the three-day California bar exam last year, I stayed at the hotel connected to the convention center exam site. Between last minute cram sessions and the unfortunate food options nearby, I had to get creative. My hotel room didn’t have any kitchen appliances, but I requested a refrigerator and microwave from the concierge desk. This enabled me to make my breakfast and lunch at the hotel and save time and money. Sure, I still ordered room service for breakfast on the mornings before the exam (built in wakeup call, too!), but I only did this on exam day mornings.

But let’s talk about the good stuff — vacation. You didn’t come here for bar exam survival tips, now did you? Alas, another time, another post. Vacationing is an entirely different animal. When vacationing, part of the fun is experiencing new things. Here were some colorful flavors we found at a Greek restaurant in Pasadena.

Even so, many of us don’t care to eat out for every meal, so plan accordingly. Depending on which meals you prefer to eat out, purchase a few essentials at the store or farmer’s market so you can eat some meals at the hotel and some meals out ‘n’ about. After a few too many dinners on the town while staying with my parents in Newport Coast, I made pan-seared salmon, sweet potato fries, and asparagus for dinner one night. Easy and delicious!

I also bought ingredients for smoothies and oatmeal. Oftentimes we ate out for breakfast or lunch, but I at least had the option of eating in when I wanted to; I was never forced to eat an overpriced or unappealing meal. To me, the key to staying healthy while away from home is about creating options and staying flexible. Sometimes all you need is a healthy smoothie or bowl of oatmeal to start the day.

  • On the other hand, don’t hold too fast to routine; try new things!
While it’s always nice to have our old favorites to fall back on, don’t pass up the opportunity to try new restaurants, especially when included with your hotel reservation. Our hotel stay in Los Angeles came with free breakfast for two at their beautiful onsite restaurant overlooking LA Live.
  • Choose restaurants wisely. Be selective. 

If I’m going to splurge on a meal while traveling, the restaurant should have authentic ambiance, atmosphere, and appeal. So when we decide to eat out, I try to ensure that the spot is worth our time and money.

As you can see, 1810 was well worth it. Also, although I don’t drink too often because it hurts my digestive system, I give myself latitude when I’m out with friends and family, like when I enjoyed a margarita at Mi Piace with Yummy Mummy and her hubby. Mi Piace was another restaurant that was an all-around wonderful dining experience because we went there on recommendation of friends who live in Pasadena. Vacationing is all about new experiences with friends and family, so don’t be afraid to try new things and listen to the locals!

  • Forgive and forget if you select a restaurant that turns out to be less than stellar. 

Velvet Husband and I were disappointed with our cupcakes from Dots Cupcakes in Pasadena. Thankfully, I went with a mini cupcake, so I didn’t waste too much space on this sugary disappointment so dry with its paltry frosting attempt. It only stands to reason that I would have high standards for red velvet cupcakes, no? Excuse me, but where is the frosting? 

  • Explore, walk, run, and cycle around your new surroundings. Engage in seasonal outdoor activities. 

Use the gym if you like, but don’t be a slave to gym workouts while traveling. Explore your surroundings by walking, running, or cycling. I went to the gym once in Newport Coast and took a body pump class with Velvet Husband in Austin. But instead of adhering to a strict schedule, I went on a few runs and walks to explore the resort grounds in Newport Coast. Gorgeous, but where are the clouds? I rely on them to protect the fair skin.

On our trip to Tahoe, I stayed active and perfected the art of camouflage in case Velvet Husband and I are ever attacked my marauding gangs of Northern Californian snowboarders. We’re safe!
  • Stay hydrated.

Try to keep a refillable water bottle with you wherever you go. I’m a work in progress here. But the bottle is pretty, right?

  • In addition to water, have healthy snack options readily available. 
I like to keep fruit, carrots, dark chocolate, and Larabars close by  in case I need to grab a snack on-the-go. After our salmon dinner in Newport Coast, I whipped up banana soft serve for dessert. Never mind that I was the only person in the house excited about mashed frozen banana; just means more for me! Do we like the new apron? And please, no commentary on the confining nature of the apron. It’s my blog. I like aprons. Done. Ooh, that felt nice. Hi.

  • Above all, be flexible, relax, and enjoy spending time in a new place with the people you love. 

Yes, you can hate me now. It’s okay, these pasty fair legs come with a healthy dose of self-esteem.

See tips on staying healthy while traveling from fellow healthy living bloggers Jenny and Cait in the comments sections here and here.
What did I miss? Do you have any suggestions on how to stay healthy while traveling?

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Cheers to you, dear friends and family! Thank you so much for reading The Red Velvet Life over the past few formative weeks. It means so much to me that you take the time to drop by, read, and share your thoughts each day. Stay tuned for an upcoming giveaway to thank you for your support!

And if the above picture isn’t a dead giveaway in and of itself, we’re still in Newport Coast spending time with my parents and exploring a few parts of Southern California. Breakfast yesterday was a comforting bowl of chocolate peanut butter banana oatmeal. And since I don’t have my pure cocoa powder on hand, I tried something different and used 1/4 scoop of Jillian Michaels Natural Whey Protein Powder that Velvet Husband found at the store. I couldn’t help but melt in Ghiradelli Midnight Reverie Dark Chocolate; 86% of crisp cocoa goodness! With the blueberries, oats, cocoa, and peanut butter, this breakfast tasted more like dessert, which is good for reasons I will address later. And if you look closely, you can see bits of devastated kale in my lunchtime smoothie pictured above. I never thought I’d say this, but I love kale. When I can’t taste it. And it’s shredded into unrecognizable bits. Disguised by chocolate. Yeah, I love kale.

We joined my parents for dinner at one of their favorite places, a country club that will go unnamed in Costa Mesa. Coat required, tie optional. Said club is a wedding venue-type place in Costa Mesa, and my golfer parents like the ambiance and special attention service. I settled on an avocado mango salad, the applewood smoked pork with sweet potato mash and vegetables, and a white chocolate lava cake for dessert. My entree was wonderful, the salad was refreshing, but I didn’t finish my dinner. You know why. My sweet tooth cannot be tamed. Three words: Room. For. Dessert.

This little ramekin of doughy goodness rivaled my entree as my favorite part of the meal. It’s a close call because the applewood smoked pork medallions were delicious, too.

My salad, entree, and doughy roll were delicious; the service was attentive and lovely; but I was completely disappointed in my dessert. This syrupy-spongy white cake was not at all what I expected; I barely touched it. Correction: I barely touched it after I selectively scooped out the chocolate lava. Yes, that happened. In front of Mommy and Daddy. {Yes, I call them Mommy and Daddy.} Anywho, The Husband wasn’t crazy about his brownie-strawberry-ice cream dessert selection either. My parents shared a Dutch apple pie, so perhaps with regard to dessert, parents really do know best? 😉 I’m sorry, but is this supposed to look appetizing?

Gross. Anyway, with our travel-laden schedule lately, it’s been a challenge to eat healthy and fit in workouts. Along the way, I’ve developed a few strategies for eating healthy while away from home. I’ll be sharing tips for healthy vacationing in a future post. Be sure to let me know some of your tips; I would love to hear from you!

What are your strategies for eating and staying healthy while vacationing?

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